Hanna Kielar5-Minute Read
UPDATED: May 01, 2023
When you’re looking to get a mortgage, it helps to know what credit score is needed to buy a house. Your credit score impacts both your eligibility for the loan and the interest rate you get.
The minimum credit score to buy a house with a conventional loan is 620 – though you may qualify with a lower score if you’re seeking a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), such as an FHA loan, VA loan or USDA loan. Home buyers with a credit score of 760 and above are more likely to qualify for the best interest rates on a mortgage.
If your credit score needs work, there are ways to improve it before applying for a mortgage loan.
During the mortgage application process, lenders commonly check the borrower’s FICO® credit score, which grades consumers on a scale of 300 – 850, with 850 being the highest score possible.
According to FICO® credit bureau data, the best credit score to buy a house is 760 and higher, which tends to unlock the best mortgage rate.
However, to qualify for a home loan, you’ll need at least the minimum credit score to buy a house, which ranges from about 500 – 680, depending on the mortgage program. But a higher credit score can boost your chances of qualifying for a mortgage because it shows the lender that you’re likely to repay your loan on time.
The minimum credit score requirement varies depending on the type of home loan you get and who insures the loan. Eligibility requirements are looser for mortgages backed by government agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Agriculture and the Federal Housing Administration. The minimum credit score for conventional loans and jumbo loans is often higher because these aren’t insured by the government.
The minimum credit score to buy a house with a conventional loan is 620. Some lenders may require an even higher score for a conventional loan. Compare mortgage lenders or wait until you’ve improved your credit score to buy a house.
The credit score requirements to take out a jumbo loan are often higher compared to a conforming loan because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not back jumbo loans. Mortgage lenders may require a credit score of 700 or higher depending on the amount of the loan.
For an FHA loan, Rocket Mortgage® requires a median FICO® Score of 580 with a 3.5% down payment. However, some lenders may only require a median credit score of 500 or higher with a 10% down payment.
Most lenders require that applicants for a VA loan have credit scores somewhere between 580 – 650 for VA loans. For some mortgage lenders, it’s also possible to take out a VA loan with a credit score as low as 500.
The minimum credit score required by most lenders to take out a USDA loan is 640. You may still be able to qualify for a USDA loan if your credit score is close to the minimum requirement, so it’s important to speak with your lender about your mortgage options.
Although credit scores are a major factor in deciding whether an individual will be approved for a loan or not, there are also many other factors that are considered, including:
The interest rate you receive on a home loan is largely tied to your credit score. Generally, borrowers with higher scores qualify for lower mortgage rates, which can save them thousands of dollars over the life of a mortgage. It’s a good idea to compare how varying credit scores influence your mortgage rate.
Every lender will have a different formula for setting your interest rate, but even a small difference on your credit score can help you save substantially. For example, bumping your score from 660 to 700 may help you shave $61 off your monthly payment on a $300,000 mortgage. That’s a difference of $21,960 over a 30-year mortgage term.
A bad credit score for a mortgage is below 620. While it’s possible to get a mortgage with bad credit, you’ll pay higher interest rates and have higher monthly payments.
If your credit is lower than the minimum required, you might still be able to get the loan if you add a co-signer to the mortgage, make a larger down payment or lower your debt-to-income ratio.
If you’re considering applying for a mortgage, it’s a good idea to check your credit score to see if your score needs to be repaired or improved.
Start by requesting your credit reports and looking for errors, which could potentially drag down your credit. You can get a free credit report from TransUnion®, Equifax® and Experian™ every year. If you find inaccurate information, file a dispute with the creditor and the credit reporting agency. Getting rid of errors may help boost your score.
Next, get to know how credit scores work. Here’s a list of what influences your score and how to make improvements before applying for a mortgage:
Financing a home purchase is a big legal commitment, which requires reassurances that you have and will continue to pay off debt. Devoting even 6 months to improving your credit rating can save you thousands in interest payments over the life of the loan.
Whether your credit score is up to par with minimum credit requirements or not, it’s just one factor in mortgage eligibility. Check your credit score and learn how to lower your debt-to-income ratio to financially prepare you for buying a home.
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Getting your credit ready for a mortgage can be stressful, but it helps if you know where to begin. Learn more about how to get started and prep your credit.